I spoke to a group at the library two weeks ago and had a Q&A session after my talk. One question was: If you write another book, what will you do differently?
I answered that this time I would have a plan before I started.
My first book began with a premise and went from there, evolving as ideas came to me. Some threads led to nowhere and I had to start over. Some led in new directions and I had to rewrite earlier chapters to account for the changes.
I started that novel more than six years ago (or maybe longer, I can't remember) and am still working on it. It has grown completely out of control, with twists and turns in the plot that even I, who should be in charge, am having trouble unraveling. My next step is to create a timeline and get all the action in some kind of order. I am not giving up; I think it's a good story. But in its present form, it is not publishable.
I have an idea for another story and this time, instead of sitting down and typing Chapter One and seeing where it takes me, I wrote a complete synopsis of what I thought the story should be and where it should go. I plan to write a description of each character: physical description, hopes, dreams, fears and desires. A timeline will tell me when each conflict and resolution should occur. This time I will know the ending instead of wondering where the story is going and letting the characters lead me.
Only then will I type Chapter One on my page.
Novel Number One is an adventure and I have enjoyed every minute of writing it. It also is too long, too convoluted and -- well, too messy. It needs organizing. It needs discipline.
Novel Number Two will start out disciplined and I have no doubt I will write it without being sidetracked by a stray thought that maybe this happens and the heroine reacts like this -- no, the heroine will stay on track and not lead me down any false paths. I should be able to complete it in less than a year.
I don't know yet if it will as much fun to write.